Organic is everywhere, products using this word can be found in and out of the kitchen. A trip to the grocery store reveals that this mysterious term is prevalent and found on packaging for all types of products: meets, dairy, fruits, cereals and even cosmetics.
In the early 1990’s the term organic was in its infancy. Today it is embedded into the marketplace and there are many federal laws governing the organic term and the use of its labeling. In the U.S. there are three main federal agencies that reside over the use and labeling of the organic term. The first agency, United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) has jurisdiction over the definition of the term organic. Frequently used is the NOP acronym which is the National Organic Program. The second agency is the Food Drug Administration (FDA) which governs the use of labeling. The third agency is the Federal Trade Commission. They are usually involved in labeling, miss-advertising and intent to fraud cases.
Unfortunately, the term organic has gained popularity and is thrown around in marketing campaigns and printed on labels without explanation. This leaves individuals with a vague notion of what organic truly means. The term organic is linked to growers and producers, in regards to their environmental practices. Certified organic growers must meet strict environmental regulations regarding how they manage crops, livestock and agriculture. The word organic in its broadest definition is a classification of a wide range of products and ingredients that includes agriculture, cosmetics, food and beverages.
Organic Ingredient Origins
The term organic relates to how the ingredients are produced and grown, the origins of the plants. It all starts with either organic seeds or organic seedlings and planting stock. The soil in which the organic ingredients are grown in may not contain or been exposed to: ionizing radiation, sewage sludge, manure ash, arsenic, calcium chloride, lead salts, potassium chloride, mined sodium fluoaluminate, sodium nitrate measuring over twenty percent, strychnine and tobacco dust. These are USDA recognized contaminates. Regulations also exist regarding the physical perimeter of the location of where the ingredients are grown. Fields and crops must have security boundaries with additional land around the boundary acting as a buffer zone for reducing risk of unintentional contamination.
During the growth of the organic ingredient the producer may not use any fertilizer or composted plant and animal material that contains a synthetic substance. The producer or grower has to implement environmental management standards to prevent crop and land destruction. This includes infestation of insects, weeds, and diseases. Most environmental management plans include crop rotation.
Even though there is few skin care ingredients derived from livestock these too can be organic. Vanilla cream is an example of an organic ingredient in bath products. Milk and cream is one that may still be technically classified as dairy as it is derived from livestock. The origins of the organic milk must come from animals that have been under continuous organic management for one year prior to the production of the milk. This management includes organic feeding and prohibiting the use of drugs to promote growth.
Shopping for Organic Skin Care Products
The word organic dictates the percentage of organic ingredients in products that have many components. Basically all the organic products can be categorized into three groups based on the percentage of the organic ingredients. These categories are defined by the USDA. In order to be able to use the certified organic label, the ingredients must be one hundred percent organic. The second category is products that are made up of seventy percent of organic ingredients. These products may use the certified organic phrase on packaging. The last category contains products that are comprised of less than seventy percent organic ingredients. These products can only specify the word organic within the ingredient list and no where else on the packaging.
Shopping for certified organic products is one of the best ways to get the most quality for your dollar. Look for the USDA NOP seal on product packages. These skin care products are contaminant and growth hormone free.